Dutch duo ruled out of Hamburg opener

Hamburger SV's Netherlands midfielders Rafael van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong will miss the first night of the group stage after they were sidelined for three weeks.

De Jong will miss the UEFA Cup group stage opener
De Jong will miss the UEFA Cup group stage opener ©Getty Images

Hamburger SV's Netherlands midfielders Rafael van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong will miss the opening game of the German club's UEFA Cup group stage campaign after being sidelined for around three weeks by injuries sustained on international duty.

Double jeopardy
The 22-year-old De Jong was the first to fall injured, damaging his left groin in training with the Oranje and having to withdraw from the squad for their midweek UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifier. Hamburg captain Van der Vaart played in that 2-0 win against Slovenia yet lasted only 29 minutes in Eindhoven before succumbing to a torn left thigh muscle. The 24-year-old playmaker, like his former AFC Ajax team-mate, is expected to be out for the rest of this month.

No Brann trip
The pair will therefore sit out Hamburg's UEFA Cup Group D match away to Norway's SK Brann on 25 October. Stade Rennais FC, NK Dinamo Zagreb and FC Basel 1893 complete the group lineup, and Van der Vaart and De Jong should be available to face those sides as Hamburg have a month-long break from the competition after their first game on Matchday 1.